Anxiety.

When my radio went silent in my car I thought, ok. This is good. I needed to get alone with my thoughts. I needed to listen and be more sensitive to other energies and feelings and voices instead of drowning them out. When I was at the worst in my depression, I made the decision to stop listening to music for a year because it was too easy to find songs that sang my life and kept me down. It was eliminating it that helped get me out of the darkness, and started hearing truth.

The opposite is happening to me right now. I cut out all writing. I cut out all music. I cut out singing and not a single thought has come to me.
It could be a combination of things, I’m sure. It definitely, probably is. But at this stage, I think the silence is allowing my fears to have a platform. The nothingness is amplifying all of this noise. I have no outlet and it’s all festering and gathering and stirring in my body. It feels too real and too close than when I was journaling every day, or singing along with people who knew my feelings, but could find a sense of hope.
I’m just drowning.

I struggle between knowing what is better in the midst of it all. To allow myself to feel.
To validate my feelings and to be glad for them for whatever they are, or to just distract myself until I find something to take their place in my life.

It’s both too simple and too complicated to just not care. I just don’t know how to do it.
I’m not at peace with either. I don’t understand it at all, but I accept that it is just a part of life.
I’m just in that season. Trying to find a reason for all the related social anxiety and trying to find validation when I’m being held down by the undertow. It’s all related.
It’s all too easy to see why I would have this anxiety, but I haven’t quite learned how to silence all the voices. I haven’t fully put my trust in the truths, because they aren’t as loud as the lies.

I feel like I am just standing in front of a crowd trying to scream, but never making a sound.

I need my voice.
I need my words.
I need restoration and resolution.

Someone once told me that I am disarming.
I don’t feel like it when I am feeling all of this.

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It’s Leftover Time Again!

I know last year I talked you through how to turn a vegan pie into NOT vegan waffles, and I decided maybe the effort into making waffles the day after you spent all your tears, blood, and sweat into the kitchen that maybe you didn’t want to do all the work.
I don’t blame you!

This year has been a big jerk to us all, and we could use more time relaxing, and less time doing dishes.

Warm Granola with Cranberry Sauce and Vanilla Yogurt.

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Most people tend to migrate towards putting cranberry sauce on a turkey sandwich, which is fine. But cranberry sauce can be so much more.

You can premake a ginger pecan granola, or you can buy a granola that you like. You can buy your favorite yogurt (and currently mine is Smari Orangic Icelandic Vanilla Bean), or you can add vanilla to a plain yogurt.

To make a granola, add 2 tablespoons of butter (or different oil), whisper of salt, cinnamon, fresh ginger, lemon zest and a pinch of cloves to a pan. Melt butter and then add oatmeal and 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir and toast. Add pecans after heat has been turned off. Toasting happens quickly. This is for one serving of granola.

To make cranberry sauce: 1/2 sugar, 1 cup water, bag of cranberries, 2 tiny granny smith apples, 1 quince, lemon zest, cinnamon, fresh ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Whisper of salt. All spices are to taste.

Lightly toast the granola to warm it up if you have premade, and warm up the cranberry sauce, too. Then add the yogurt. IT IS THAT EASY AND SO GOOD!
You can also add these ingredients to oatmeal, but for me, that’s a little too heavy the day after Thanksgiving.

I hope that I’m encouraging you to think outside the box on how to use your leftovers, and to eat something a touch more healthy than another slice of pie. Oh, who am I kidding?
Just eat the pie.

Lazy, but the produce is going bad!

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I’ve been opening the fridge for the past few days wanting to do something more than just to sigh every time I see the organic and small blueberries turning to raisins.

“I don’t have time or energy for you little guys. I’m sorry I bought you to rot a slow death.”

I just learned I can’t eat raw fruit and eating muffins just felt like a chore.

Today I was determined to make something despite my laziness.

I poured the blueberries in a pot, drizzled in maple syrup. In a small saucepan, I melted some butter, the juiced a few drops of lemon into a bowl of dried oats, added cinnamon, cloves, salt and fresh ginger. Added it to the melted butter pan and toasted the oats quickly. Turned off the burner and added coconut flakes. At this point I feel like I could add some nuts, but I wasn’t really feeling too exciting.

I put plain yogurt in a cup, added the warm granola over it and on top of that, the quick and simple hot blueberry compote.

I don’t know how you feel about warm granola, but on this fall day, it’s like a fast, easy and healthy version of a blueberry crisp. And that’s fine by me!

 

 

Moving Days.

I spent the last few days moving and working. I dread looking at the calendar because there is not a second to breathe or enjoy my new home.

Surprisingly, I had some good friends who helped me with the daunting task of organizing and unpacking. I promise you, I could live out of boxes forever.

I’ve been really excited to plan what my first meal was going to be in my new kitchen, which is totally adorable AND instagrammable. It also is set up perfectly for a cooking show, so (eyebrows, eyebrows). But at the end of a tiring week and an even more exhausting move, nothing else sounded better than a good ol’ PB&J.

Potato bread.
Organic, no stir peanut butter, and raspberry jam.
And for a drink?
Apple juice.

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Nothing like a childlike meal after a tough week of adulting, am I right?

Looking forward to cooking and creating more very soon.

Edit to say technically, my first cooked meal was breakfast today.

Cooked oatmeal with vanilla and cloves and orange zest. Topped it with honey Greek yogurt, macadamia nuts and orange slices.

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So, there ya go.

How Do I Use Fennel?

Lately I’ve been buying fennel and wasting it. It’s good a lot of ways, but I usually just use a bit and forget about the rest.

It’s been quite balmy here in Portland and today, with this dreary rain, all I wanted to do was crawl into my pajamas, binge watch tv and eat soup. “I only have fennel. That’s a terrible idea for soup.”

Wrong. Fennel was the best idea for soup.

I started with a chicken broth. Dark meat, boiled in salt, pepper, tarragon and lemon thyme. (You might have noticed I use those herbs a lot. Waste nothing!!)

In a different pan, I creamed corn. I mean like really creamed it like my Nana from Alabama would do. Added some butter and salt and then added some milk and let that fizzle out. Then a couple splashes of white wine. To that I added a sweet onion and fennel and caramelized it. Added garlic, more butter and sprinkled flour on it to make a roux to thicken the broth.

Then, I added potatoes to the broth and let them cook. After that was done, I added allllllll the caramelized goodness to the broth and let it thicken up.

This would make a KILLER base for Clam Chowder. Knowing how to utilize fennel is a beautiful thing and I think we could all use a little more soup in our hearts.image.jpeg

Chicken life.

Well the chickens have started producing eggs, which I mentioned earlier.
They’re not mine, but I was told as a reward for watching them, I was allowed to eat any eggs they produce. As I also mentioned before, I am allergic to eggs and told them I would pass.
However, today, I told myself I was crazy for not experiencing a free range, straight from the hen’s hoo-ha fresh egg.
I wanted to keep it simple to be able to taste the egg and get a real sense of the difference from store bought.

I made my favorite childhood breakfast, which was an egg on toast.
Cooked it in brown butter and olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little bit of that gouda.
Buttered the toast with brown butter.
The end result is softer and lighter. If that makes any sense?
Not at all rubbery, like I remember eggs being. Less sulfuric, too.
I think everyone should try it at least once, especially if food is your passion.

Pasta Tonight.

My friend made pasta the other day. Something I’d been thinking about, but she beat me to it.
I ended up researching it very briefly the other day just to see how difficult it would be without a machine. I’m not into complicated things. Why do you think I haven’t made anymore bread or flødeboller?

It seemed easy enough to me. Hearing her feedback and reading some quick failed attempts, I decided I would try it.
I took advice from one recipe to ration the eggs to yolk, but decided I wanted to make less pasta. With one cup of flour and 1 egg and 2 yolks and .5 additional white, it still made quite a lot.
I ate a small helping, and a friend ate a small helping. TONS left over.

For the sauce, I decided on a cream  with a dollop of sun dried tomato pesto, orange bell pepper, zucchini, and one clove of garlic and a drop of white wine vinegar. I used some butter and olive oil, and a really nice gouda that errs on the side of cheddar. Threw in an Italian chicken sausage and garnished with some fresh tarragon and lemon thyme.

It was quite good, and incredibly easy. Just throw in some things here and there.
I do have a terrible secret, though. I’m allergic to eggs, and, well, I’m feeling some side effects, so I probably won’t be trying this again. I have to be kind to my body and limit my egg intake to strictly baked goods and the occasional french toast.

Any way, here are some pictures.
The chicken that appears in most of my photos is Cosmo and belongs to my dear friends. She started laying eggs yesterday!

Gloat.

I’m really good at cooking and creating.

Today there was a killer deal on organic chicken halves. 4 for $5!
I took some tarragon, lemon thyme and 3 small cloves of garlic and roasted it with a healthy amount of olive oil, salt and pepper.

While that was roasting, I tried to translate a danish recipe to english and make a tart/bread/pastry with fresh apricots and tarragon. In the batter, I used lemon zest, which the recipe called for. I decided to use the tarragon to play off of the lemon and licorice obsession that the Danes have.
My friend just returned from Copenhagen and we’re having a coffee and licorice party tomorrow.
I’m very, VERY excited for it.

After that came together, rather quickly I might add, I threw together a quick focaccia.
I’m not really a fan of figs, but they looked so beautiful at the market, and they remind me of my Nana who recently passed. It was her birthday on Friday and I didn’t really get to honor her, so I am doing so today.
I caramelized a sweet onion and fennel in olive oil. Sliced thin some mushrooms, zucchini, and an heirloom tomato. I quartered the figs and spread them around.
I used the same herbs in the focaccia and lemon zest. Black pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar on top, pink salt. More zest and lemon thyme.

While that was happening, and everything else was baking, I boiled some small golden potatoes with the skin on. I put some of the sliced mushrooms in the pan juice from the chicken while it rested. Squeezed the roasted garlic into a food processor, with the lightly cooked mushrooms, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, few spoonfuls of the pan juice, a very nice and sharp gouda, salt, pepper and more lemon zest and lemon thyme, I pureed then added the potatoes.
It is at a cooler temperature, which allows the cheese to not melt, and adds more of that nice, nutty flavor throughout the potatoes.

I’m sorry for not inviting you over, but sometimes it’s just too good to share.

Menu Planning

I’m cooking a meal for one of my favorite families tomorrow. I’d promised them I would as a way to thank them for their hospitality while I looked for a job and slept on their couch.
One of them is moving away, and I was running out of time.

It’s been fun meal planning for it. I don’t usually plan meals, because I’m a mood eater and I have to see how I feel about eating something before I can eat it.
They’re mostly paleo, and while they said not to worry, I still want the challenge and to honor their diet.

I hope that it turns out well.
As most things, I’ve never cook it before or even tried it. Just an idea floating in my head.

Coconut Milk Fish over Saffron Rice, with a Raw Beet and Zucchini citrus salad.
Well, maybe I’ll blanche them. I’m excited about it because of fennel and herbs.

I’ll have pictures of it tomorrow or Monday, I hope! With reports from the front lines.

 

Fresh.

I had this vision yesterday of going and “u-picking” all of my produce and even some flowers! I forgot about my strict plans to go do all the “car stuff” I needed to do and headed to the farms.
I went to the wrong farm. Turns out, all we could find to pick were boysenberries.
I’m a good ol’ southern girl, and frankly, my dear, I wanted blackberries.
I ended up settling, and bought the rest of my produce at the farm stand.
$14 dollars it all ended up costing me.

I have this terrible problem of spending $30-$50 dollars on fresh produce from a grocery store and then making plans to go out with friends before I can eat them. OR I’ll freak out that they’ll all go to waste so I’ll eat everything within 2 days and then have to go back out and spend another $50 and the cycle never ends.

So there I was with all these fresh ingredients and not a clue what to do but just watch them all rot.
But then I learned it was a friend’s birthday, so I went to the cutting board.

I had previously turned 3 sticks of butter into brown butter for an ice cream, so I decided to use that in a fruit tart crust.
I had heavy cream and cream cheese left over from my ice cream adventures that also needed to be whipped up into something.
So I took a grapefruit, juiced and zested it into the cream cheese and whisked it all together until it was smooth. Then I added a tablespoon of real maple syrup and added the cream. I also ended up adding a touch more of sugar, JUST BECAUSE WHIP CREAM.
I carefully and sleepily placed fresh fruit all around and used a mix of sugar and grapefruit juice to glaze the fruit to give it a shine.
In the mini tarts, I used a few sprigs of fennel to make it look cute and give it more color, plus it adds a hint of a unique flavor.

I don’t know how it will go over for someone who is not into sweets or dessert, but the chickens and I sure enjoyed it!IMG_20160627_203431